Newman and His Contemporaries
By Edward Short
About Newman and His Contemporaries
This is a book on John Henry Newman's influence on some of the most fascinating characters of the 19th century
— and their influence on him. No one in nineteenth-century England had a more varied circle of friends and contacts
than John Henry Newman (1801-1890), the priest, theologian, educator, philosopher, poet and writer, who began his
career as an Anglican, converted to Catholicism and ended his days a Cardinal. That he was also a leading member
of the Oxford Movement, brought the Oratory to England, founded the Catholic University in Dublin and corresponded
with men and women from all backgrounds from around the world made him a figure of enormous interest to his contemporaries.
In this study of Newman's personal influence, Edward Short looks closely at some of Newman's relations with his
contemporaries to show how this prophetic thinker drew on his personal relationships to develop his many insights
into faith and life. Some of the contemporaries covered include Keble, Pusey, Gladstone, Matthew Arnold, Richard
Holt Hutton, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, and Thackeray. Based on a careful reading of Newman's correspondence, the
book offers a fresh look at an extraordinary figure whose work continues to influence our own contemporaries.
Table Of Contents
Preface \ Introduction \ Chapter 1: John Keble and the Crisis of Tractarianism \ Chapter 2: Staying Put: John Keble
After 1845 \ Chapter 3: The Anglican Difficulties of Edward Pusey \ Chapter 4: The Certainty of Vocation: Newman
and the Froudes \ Chapter 5: A Better Country: Newman and Public Life \ Chapter 6: Newman and the Female Faithful
\ Chapter 7: Newman and Gladstone \ Chapter 8: Newman, Thackeray and Vanity Fair \ Chapter 9: Newman and the Americans
\ Chapter 10: On the Track of Truth: Newman and Richard Holt Hutton \ Chapter 11: Culture and Hollowness: Newman
and Matthew Arnold \ Chapter 12: Newman and Arthur Hugh Clough \ Chapter 13: Newman on Newman \ Biographical Index
\ Bibliographical Note \ Index
Online Book Preview
“In this well-researched book, Edward Short shows how Newman, far from being the self-absorbed introvert as some
have claimed, had a wide circle of friends who benefited from his extraordinary powers of empathy. Newman and his
Contemporaries is a useful introduction to this essential quality of the man and will send readers back not only
to Newman's published works but to his wonderful letters.” — Ian Ker, St. Benet's Hall, Oxford, author of
John Henry Newman: A Biography (1988),
“This book is a charming blend of erudition, lively commentary and judicious selection of sources. Eavesdropping
on heart-to-heart conversations with novelists and social critics, politicians and journalists, scientists and
clergymen, Short has succeeded in bringing alive some of Newman's most engaging correspondence and setting it within
its proper historical framework. The Newman that emerges from this study confronts the modern reader on the burning
issues of the times — both his times and ours — and captivates us by his subtlety of mind, his exquisite prose
style and his genius for friendship.” – Paul Shrimpton, Magdalen College
School, Oxford, author of A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School (2005),
“Newman and His Contemporaries is like a Victorian Dance to
the Music of Time, except the characters are all real historical figures. Social historians, Spectator readers,
literate people in general, young BXVI generation Catholics and those old enough to finish the sentence Introibo ad Altare Dei will love it. This is a book to be taken on a Summer
holiday and read under a palm tree with a gin and tonic. Social histories can be boring and sag in the middle,
but this one isn't. It's a soufflé that doesn't flop.” — Tracey
Rowland, Dean and Professor of Political Philosophy and Continental Theology at the John Paul II Institute Melbourne,
Australia, and author of Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (2008),
“Edward Short's Newman and His Contemporaries is that most intellectually
satisfying phenomenon; a deeply-researched, beautifully-written and important book that answers all the questions
it sets itself, and all that any reader may also ask. The Oxford Movement might not engage many people today, but
in Victorian England it was an absolutely revolutionary concept and the author blows pure oxygen onto its almost-dead
embers in recreating its crises and controversies. Moreover, the reader doesn't need to know anything about Tractarianism
to enjoy the perceptive and witty essays covering the Cardinal's relations with such figures as Gladstone, Thackeray,
Arnold, Clough and the Froudes.” — Andrew Roberts, BBC History Magazine
Books of the Year 2011,
“Here Short offers an engaging account of how [Newman's] inner life gave manifestation to his role in the public
life of the nineteenth century.” – Touchstone
“Chosen by Andrew Roberts as one of his favourite books on thedailybeast.com” –
“I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Blessed John Henry Newman, especially if they have
general knowledge of Newman's life and works.” –
review on blog Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation
“Novelists, social critics, politicians and journalists, scientists and clergymen are all well-represented. . .
. The numerous photographs which illustrate the book help to bring its many characters to life. Highly recommended!” – Newsletter of the Friends of Cardinal Newman
“This book... with its rich cast-list and broad sweep, will be a valued addition to the libraries not only of the
Newmaniacs but of anyone who takes the 19th century seriously and who wishes to explore its often alien ideas and
characters.” – A.N. Wilson, The Spectator
“Edward Short puts us in contact with Newman's opinions and decisions, but does so via a well-chosen selection
of his contemporaries. The result is a fresh reading of, and insight into, the dramatic character of Blessed John
Henry Newman's eventful, even iconic, life. Newman and his Contemporaries can be highly recommended to both Newman specialists and Newman beginners.” – Thomas Norris, Irish Theological Quarterly
“Another Newman book? Well, yes, and a particularly fine one that explores Newman's relationships with the great
ecclesiastical, literary, political and journalistic figures of his time. Short's close reading of Newman's vast
correspondence also demonstrates just how many of our post-Vatican II arguments were anticipated in the 19th century
among Newman and his interlocutors.” – George Weigel, First Things Books
for Christmas 2011,
“...interesting and massive.... Admirers of Ian Ker's John Henry Newman: A Biography should find Short's book a useful complement to that study. Despite its 403 pages of dense small print,
the main text reads easily and is full of rich material from Newman's Letters and Diaries and many other sources.
It illuminates well-known contemporaries of Newman and helpfully introduces others who are less well-known... an
excellent book which belongs in every serious library.” – Walter E. Conn,
Villanova University, Horizons
“One of the greatest merits of this book (in addition to the author’s lively style) is Short’s extensive use of
Newman’s correspondence, a voluminous collection of letters that would otherwise remain largely unknown except
to dedicated researchers... Short allows the sources to speak for themselves and he presents them in a wonderfully
readable and even entertaining fashion while managing, at the same time, to introduce his readers to the essential
elements of Newman’s theology... Eminently readable and enlightening.” – Terrence Merrigan, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, Recusant History
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"Another Newman book? Well, yes, and a particularly fine
one that explores Newman's relationships with the great ecclesiastical, literary, political, and journalistic figures
of his time. Edward Short's close reading of Newman's vast correspondence also demonstrates just how many of our
post-Vatican II arguments were anticipated in the 19th century among Newman and his interlocutors."
– George Weigel, Christmas Books for 2011
"Newman and his Contemporaries
sets out to place Newman in context and in dialogue with a range of his contemporaries. Newman famously said that
‘a man's life is in his letters.' The 30 or so volumes of Newman's Letters and Diaries provide a significant quarry
for Short's exploration... In its rich citations from Newman's correspondence Newman and his Contemporaries reminds us of Newman's skill as a pastoral
theologian and theological apologist... Newman saw that there were hard questions for Anglicans to answer, with
which we need to continue to wrestle-about authority, about the right discernment of development, and, fundamentally,
about the nature of the Church. If this book provokes us to do this, then it will have achieved one of its purposes."
– Geoffrey Rowell, Church Times
Newman and His Contemporaries
"is the best study of Newman since Ian Ker's magisterial biography. It complements the latter work by showing
Newman through the eyes of his contemporaries, from the perspective of his relations with them... The text of every
chapter is chock full of engaging anecdotes and witty commentary. We are introduced to a panorama of life among
an educated class of English-speaking people for whom religion was a matter of passionate concern. Best of all,
this book introduces us to a type of holiness that manifests itself uniquely in the form of friendship."
– Carleton P. Jones, OP, First Things
"Edward Short puts us in contact with Newman's opinions
and decisions, but does so via a well-chosen selection of his contemporaries. The result is a fresh reading of,
and insight into, the dramatic character of Blessed John Henry Newman's eventful, even iconic, life.... Newman and His Contemporaries can be highly
recommended to both Newman specialists and Newman beginners."
– Thomas Norris, author of Newman for Today, in the Irish
"This formidably researched and carefully organized book provides a valuable approach to a much-covered subject
from a novel angle... The author skilfully moves... from John Keble, Edward Pusey, the family of Hurrell Froude
(who died in his thirties)... [to] Wellington, Peel, Melbourne, Palmerston, Disraeli, and Gladstone, almost 60
years of prime ministers... It is interesting to read of the Duke of Wellington, not someone I ever thought was
much exercised about theological fineries... accusing the ‘shopkeepers' whom he considered the beneficiaries of
the First Reform Act, of being "Socinians and atheists." Then, again, here Charlotte Bronte describes...
the rather bonhomous... Cardinal Wiseman [as] ‘swimming into the room, smiling, simpering, and bowing like a fat
old lady... the picture of a sleek hypocrite.' When the Iron Duke is roaring about Socinians and a Bronte is raving
like this, the glories of the Victorian era were not as august and tranquil as is generally thought... This is
a very rigorous and readable account of the personal impact of one of modern England's greatest intellectuals on
a fascinating range of his contemporaries, and... a valuable addition to the Newman literature."
– Conrad Black, The Catholic Herald
"This book... with its rich cast-list and broad sweep, will be a valued addition to the libraries not only
of the Newmaniacs but of anyone who takes the 19th century seriously and who wishes to explore its often alien
ideas and characters."
– A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
Newman and His Contemporaries "offers
a fresh voice to the field by... looking at the impact that Blessed Newman had upon a number of his contemporaries....
Perhaps most impressively, Short demonstrates an intimate familiarity with the relevant literature, navigating
with ease both Newman's writings as well as the published works and personal correspondence of Newman's interlocutors....
His prose is exceedingly readable.... Overall, I found Short's monograph to be both impressive and also accessible."
– Ryan Marr, Saint Louis University, Catholic Book Reviews
Edward Short’s Newman and His Contemporaries reminds us what a central figure Cardinal
Newman was to Victorian intellectual and cultural life, whose relations with Gladstone, Thackeray, Matthew Arnold,
his American friends, and many others are told with scholarship and wit in this highly engaging book."
– Newsweek/Daily Beast Writers' Favorite
Books of 2011
"For those minded to observe the Christmas season on a more ecclesiastical note, I recommend Edward Short's Newman and his Contemporaries, a familiar subject
approached from a novel angle... The fear that the British Victorian gentry and aristocracy had of the intellectual
seduction of Rome, especially when the temptation was limned out by Newman in all his rigor, brilliance, [and]
charm is very striking."
Spectator, Christmas Books, 2011
"Edward Short's fine book is closely argued, well researched, and
– Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal
“Edward Short has both an in-depth knowledge of Newman's life and thought, as well as an enviable familiarity with
the writings of many of Newman's contemporaries... The wide-ranging discussions in this book are both fascinating
and thought-provoking. Readers can look forward to Short's promised sequel on Newman and his family."
Catholic Historical Review
"Short has limited his field of reference to the Victorian intellectual world... but within that world he
moves with great facility and aplomb, drawing out the remarkable--and remarkably complicated--strands of friendship
that made the fabric of John Henry Newman's long nineteenth-century life... Thus, Newman and his Contemporaries successfully returns
one of the great ninetenth-century public intellectuals to his natural habitat... Thank goodness, then, for Edward
Short's work. Victorianists and scholars of late-modern religion and culture will enjoy every page of Newman and his Contemporaries.”
– Dwight A. Lindley, III, in Christianity and Literature
"...interesting and massive.... Admirers of Ian Ker's John
Henry Newman: A Biography should find Short's book a useful complement to that
study. Despite its 403 pages of dense small print, the main text reads easily and is full of rich material
from Newman's Letters and Diaries and many other sources. It
illuminates well-known contemporaries of Newman and helpfully introduces others who are less well-known... an excellent
book which belongs in every serious library."
– Walter E. Conn, Villanova University, Horizons
Newman and his Contemporaries "includes an excellent
'Select Bibliographical Index,' which briefly identifies hundreds of historical figures with whom Newman interacted.
Over a hundred pages of notes complete this very well written work. The book is delightfully readable...
Short's book deserves a place in all academic libraries as well as personal and parish collections."
– Arnold Rzepecki, Catholic Library World
“Short interweaves excerpts from Newman’s letters with passages from a whole range of his writings and sets them
all in context. In so doing, he gives his readers a real sense of the lived character... of Newman’s thought...
of the fact that Newman’s theology was firmly rooted in experience and inspired by a pastoral solicitude for individuals
in very specific circumstances... One of the greatest merits of this book (in addition to the author’s lively
style) is Short’s extensive use of Newman’s correspondence, a voluminous collection of letters that would otherwise
remain largely unknown except to dedicated researchers... Short allows the sources to speak for themselves and
he presents them in a wonderfully readable and even entertaining fashion while managing, at the same time, to introduce
his readers to the essential elements of Newman’s theology... Eminently readable and enlightening.”
– Terrence Merrigan,
Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, Recusant History
The Version of this page: 26th February 2014